Job Complexity Based on the Dictionary of Occupational Titles


This measure, originally developed by Hunter (1980), uses information in the DATA dimension of the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (Don to rate job complexity. Although perceptual measures of job characteristics tend to focus on the psychological complexity of jobs, this measure focuses on the extent to which a job makes mental demands that require skill and training on the part of the job incumbent. Occupations are rated as high in task­ person complexity when great aptitude, skill, and creativity are required of their incumbents. Schaubroeck, Ganster, and Kemmerer (1994) expanded the rating scheme for complexity to include complex relationships to people, required general intelligence, and abstract and creative activities.


In Schaubroeck et al. (1994), coefficient alpha for the combined scale (four DOT-based characteristics) was .90. In Hunter, Schmidt, and Judiesch (1990), 15 of 18 studies of low-complexity jobs reported coefficient alpha values larger than .70. Fourteen of 15 studies of medium- and high­ complexity jobs reported coefficient alpha values of .70 or larger.


In Robie, Ryan, Schmieder, Parra, and Smith (1998), job complexity correlated positively with satisfaction with pay, satisfaction with the work itself, satisfaction with supervision, and requirements for specific vocational prep­aration. Job complexity based on the DOT correlated positively with cardio­ vascular disorder at a later time (Schaubroeck et al., 1994). The level and variation in job output correlated positively with levels of job complexity (Hunter et al., 1990).


Hunter, J.E., Schmidt, E. L., & Judiesch, M. K. (1990). Individual differ­ences in output variability as a function of job complexity. Journal of Applied Psychology, 75, 28-42. Items were taken from text and footnote 1, p30. Copyright © 1990 by the American Psychological Association. Reprinted with permission.


In Hunter’s original system, the two highest-complexity levels contain jobs with a code of O or 1 on the DATA dimension in the DOT (example jobs include scientists and executives) and jobs with a code of O on the THINGS dimension in the DOT classification (an example job is computer trouble shooters). Jobs with codes on the DATA dimension of 2, 3, and 4 are rated in the third level of complexity. The fourth level of complexity contains jobs with codes of 5 or 6 on the DATA dimension of the DOT. Lowest-complexity jobs are those with code of 6 on the THINGS dimension of the DOT. This rating approach was modified by Hunter et al. (1990) so that the first two levels (managerial/professional and complex technical setup work) were combined into high-complexity jobs. Skilled crafts, technician jobs, first­ line supervisors, and lower-level administrative jobs were combined into moderate-complexity jobs, and semiskilled and unskilled jobs were grouped into low-complexity jobs. In Schaubroeck et al. (1994), the rating scheme was expanded to cover additional characteristics included in the DOT. Besides the DATA and THINGS scores, the modified complexity rating includes a “worker function characteristic” for complex relationships to People, an “aptitude characteristic” for required intelligence, and an “inter­ est characteristic” for Abstract and creative versus routine, concrete activi­ ties (Schaubroeck et al., 1994).